Driving to Toronto a few months ago, I was encouraged to hear a number of people call in to a local talk show to argue that same-sex marriage is unbiblical. Unfortunately, the talk show host kept irritably swatting their arguments aside as if they were flies buzzing around his head on a warm summer night. “Why are you bringing the Bible into this,” he asked, “this isn’t a theocracy, we are a secular country, haven’t you ever heard of the separation of church and state? We are under the rule of law,” he went on, “and all we’re talking about here is basic freedom of rights.” We have all heard these arguments before and perhaps we have even tried to counter them in some fashion: “But, but...”
What was happening? Assuming we bother to defend a biblical worldview, why do we so often have a sense of futility in these situations? The answer to this question requires us to take a step back. We need to understand that we are involved in a war of cosmic proportions. The battle for the preservation of the biblical definition of marriage is but one minor skirmish. This war first came to earth when Satan convinced Adam and Eve to join him in rebellion against God. Mercifully, rather than leave man in the hands of the enemy, God declared all-out war on Satan. That war continues to this day between, as Augustine put it, the City of God and the City of Man.
What Is A Worldview?
The term worldview popped up in the previous paragraph; what does it mean? A worldview is a system of thought, a way of looking at reality. It is the sum total of a person’s beliefs about the world and is comparable to an invisible pair of glasses that profoundly affects everything he believes and does. Everyone has a worldview. In fact, the term worldview is very similar to the term religion. Everyone has a religion since man is incurably religious. Some examples of worldviews include Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, naturalism, pantheism (everything is divine), atheism (literally “no God”), secular humanism, agnosticism (man can’t know for sure), pragmatism (if it works, do it), utilitarianism (what can I get out of it?) and Christian. There are more and they often overlap. For example, an atheist usually holds to the tenets of secular humanism as well as naturalism for which the late Carl Sagan, in 1980, offered a famous definition: “The cosmos is all there is, all there ever was, and all there ever will be” (Carl Sagan Ð Cosmos). Since he was a scientist, many assume this statement to be a provable fact. It isn’t. Instead, Mr. Sagan was sharing his faith or his religion with us. Put another way, he was saying, “In the beginning matter.” We counter, “In the beginning God.” In 1993, the well-known spokesman for evolutionists, philosopher of science Michael Ruse, admitted as much “...Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning and it is still true of evolution today” (Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinianism from Darwinists,” National Post, May 13, 2000).
The war then, is between those holding a Christian worldview and those holding alternate worldviews. It is between God and His army with everyone else arrayed in opposition. In the talk show above, the host held to a secular humanist worldview and he shot down any statements that didn’t conform to this worldview.
Knowing the Enemy
Wars involve tactics and strategy. They also involve knowing the enemy. Many have said that if western leaders had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, they would not have been taken in by one ruse after another until a war involving millions of deaths became the only way to stop him. The same could be said for Christians over the centuries. Satan’s strategy since Adam and Eve fell has been to keep mankind chained to sin and to tempt God’s people into sinning as much as possible. In order to achieve this objective one very clever tactic he has come up with is to transform the public square, which in the past was in many ways characterized by biblical principles (Christian judges, teachers, schools for example), into something that is quickly becoming anything but Christian. Today we have a secular public square that is thought by many to be neutral.
A Neutral Public Square?
Proponents and defenders of the secular public square declare it to be neutral and tolerant, pretending that it is above the fray of competing religions and worldviews. Religion is permitted as long as it is kept private and woe to those who try to impose their religion (read “Christian worldview”) on anyone else. Indeed, while the secular state declares tolerance as the highest good, “inside its velvet glove of tolerance is an iron hand of tyranny” (J.I. Packer). Under a disguise of neutrality and tolerance we find that secularism is really the religion of atheism and its sibling naturalism. Abraham Kuyper recognized this over a century ago when he attacked the public school system in The Netherlands as one of the institutions of a secular or atheist state complete with secular “priests” who ran the public school system and would not allow any Christian schools. By using this method of attack, he was able to win funding for a separate Christian school system. He saw the threat that the public school system represented to Christian families. Covenant children could not be sent to the “temples” of a religion that denied the very existence of God. Sadly, there appears to be an increasing willingness in our circles to once again send children to secular schools (whether elementary or high schools) where the atheist religion is taught and practiced even while there are Christian schools available. Surely, in light of promises made at baptism and many other reasons (see previous article by Pastor Jack Schoeman in the November 2004 edition of the Messenger) parents need to seriously rethink these kinds of decisions.
Now looking back on what the talk show host said in the opening paragraph above, we can see that while he might have thought he was insisting that religions need to be kept out of the public square, he was in fact saying that only the religion of secular humanism counts and that Christianity is, in effect, blasphemous. That sure sounds tolerant doesn’t it?
Clashing Worldviews And The Two-Houses Method of Attack
Therefore, the reason we often find it difficult to defend the biblical definition of marriage is because we clash with unbelievers at a much more fundamental level. Most in our society operate on a non-Christian worldview (even if they don’t realize it), which Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, compared to a house built on sand. If man has evolved by chance from a random set of molecules (“In the beginning matter”), there isn’t really any good reason to be against anything at all. In this worldview what is wrong with polygamy, pedophilia, incest, rape or...? Ask the atheist (or agnostic) this question. You need to help him see that his house is sitting on sand and is in very grave danger of collapsing on his head. By taking God out of his worldview, the atheist (or anyone who refuses to recognize God as his Master) has removed the Moral Law Giver with the result that he has eliminated all moral laws. This is not to say that the atheist doesn’t have morals, but rather that his having morals is consistent with a Christian worldview and not an atheist worldview.
How can moral laws exist without a Moral Law Giver (God)? Evolution provides no moral laws. Cornel university biology professor, Will Provine, says that the Darwinian revolution is incomplete because man hasn’t adopted all its moral and religious implications, some of which include that “there is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life ...” (in a debate with Phil Johnson, April 30, 1994). Here is a classic case of throwing out the baby with the baby’s bath water! If evolution is true then the strongest man (or group of men) wins and everyone else loses. Hitler was an atheist and understood Darwin’s proposed natural law, known as “the survival of the fittest” very well indeed.
You cannot reasonably expect to convince an atheist that his worldview is in a shambles in one conversation. But at least you should get him thinking. Once you have spent some time at the house representing his worldview, it is time to take him to the house representing a Christian worldview (the one built on rock in the Sermon on the Mount). In the Christian worldview, the existence of morals can be defended since there is a Moral Law Giver--God. The alternative is chaos, which is where our society is headed if we ignore God and His Word.
Sin and God’s Word
Most atheists will offer lots of challenges to the idea of a moral God. What about pain and suffering? What about war? One key response to these questions it to again underline the fact that he is not in a position to ask a question that involves right and wrong. The question on pain and suffering implies that suffering is wrong. If evolution is true, how can he ask this question? Yes, you need to keep rubbing it in. The answer to this question in the Christian worldview is one word: sin. It is man’s sinful heart that has turned paradise into the world we have today. God could have left man in his misery, but instead, He freely chose to send His own Son to die in the place of sinners who believe in Him. You see how these conversations can and should lead to sharing the Gospel.
The Christian worldview, resting on God’s infallible Word, explains that God instituted marriage as a holy bond between one man and one woman. Sadly, in addition to homosexual behaviour becoming acceptable in society at large, the institution of marriage has been perilously weakened by easy access to divorce and the rise of so-called common-law marriages. Western society has ignored the biblical injunction, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). The resulting trivializing of the sanctity of marriage leaves it wide open to the attack of homosexual marriage advocates. What does the Bible say about homosexual behaviour? Numerous passages, such as Romans 1:26, 27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and Jude, indicate God’s strongest displeasure. In the Christian worldview, the only true worldview, homosexual behaviour is sin. This is the right point in the conversation to introduce Christ and how He was sent by God to deliver sinners from their sin (you get the picture).
An advocate of homosexual marriage may astutely ask, “If God created mankind, why did He give some people homosexual inclinations?” The answer brings us back to man’s fall into sin. Even if some people are born with homosexual inclinations--an unproven assertion--this does not make homosexual thoughts or behaviour morally defensible. Man’s sinful nature is evident very early on in the propensity of young children to lie, for example. This does not make lying morally acceptable. To bring this argument to its logical extreme, rapists could argue that they are born with this inclination and so should not be held culpable for their actions.
Having a discussion like the one above would clearly take some time. Talk shows do not always lend themselves to serious discussion. But even making a few points from the above can help people understand the Christian worldview better and start them asking more questions. Don’t be afraid of opportunities to have more extensive discussions. As I worked on this article while sitting in Chicago’s O-Hara airport, I had a chance to speak with someone for ten minutes or so on why morals have no foundation in a secular humanist worldview.
The Christian idea of marriage is once more under attack by proponents of homosexual marriage. I trust that the above provides some of the arguments necessary to defend biblical marriage. I hope many of you have written or called your Members of Parliament (MP’s)--maybe there is still time--and written to your local newspapers. If we don’t speak up now, our children will face much worse. How long will God be patient with the western world?
Mr. Rick Postma is the Public Relations Director of Word and Deed North America and is an elder at Grace Free Reformed Church in Brantford. This article was previously printed in the December 2005 issue of the FRC Messenger and has been republished here with permission.